Sunday 16 December 2018

In-demand Grealish focuses on club future

JACK Grealish (above) says he will take his time before making a final decision on his international future.

The teenager, who is in talks with Aston Villa about a new contract as they have offered him a new four-year deal in the face of reported interest from Premier League rivals Manchester United and Chelsea, is still on board with Ireland and won his sixth U21 cap in last week's Euro qualifying defeat in Germany.

But with England keen to recruit the Birmingham born player - who has boasted in the past of playing at Croke Park as a 13-year-old - his long-term future at international level is in question.

He did recently hold a meeting with Ireland senior team boss Martin O'Neill and the fact that it was Grealish himself who met O'Neill, accompanied by the player's father, is being seen as a good sign, in contrast to Ireland wannabe Mark Noble, who sent his agent to hold talks with O'Neill.

But the player himself says he has an open mind and is putting the international side of things to the back of his mind to focus on contract talks.

"Between appearing for Villa in the Premier League and the international situation, things have just happened very quickly for me in the past month," says Grealish.

"My contract at Villa runs out at the end of the season, so my concentration is on playing for the club and getting the negotiations on a new deal sorted out.

"Martin O'Neill appreciates from my meeting with him that I need to put my club future first before thinking about the international situation.

"My father and I wouldn't have liked to go to that meeting and hear Martin say, 'Come on and play for Ireland'. In fairness, he didn't put me under pressure to make a decision.

"He sat me down, treated me like a man and talked through everything.

"It wasn't just about football but growing up as a footballer and where my grandparents are from in Ireland.

"That's what I wanted to hear from Martin because it is a big decision to make and one I want to take my time over."

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